Communist Party cadres might wax lyrical about the sacred standing of Húnán (湖南) in the annals of Chinese history, being as it is the birthplace of Mao Zedong, but it is Húnán’s dramatic scenery that is the real draw.
An astonishing landscape of massive, isolated mountain ranges and jagged, karst peaks covers more than 80% of the province. These geological spectacles rise up from the impossibly green vales fed by the tributaries in the fertile Yangzi River basin. People have long made a home amid these natural wonders, taming the rocky slopes into terraces of lush fields. Their distinctive cultures live on in charming hillside villages and lively riverside towns.
Native sons and scenery aside, let’s not forget the food. Húnán’s fiery cuisine has mouths (and eyes) watering all over the world, and it tastes even better on its home turf.